Caleb Clay remembered a lot of faces in the Las Vegas 51s lineup from troublesome days in past seasons. After his performance on Sunday, the 51s should remember his.
The Angels farmhand recorded his second career nine-inning complete game, tossing a three-hitter as Triple-A Salt Lake salvaged a split of its four-game series with a 3-0 whitewash of the 51s.
"Coming up through the Minor Leagues, in Double-A, I faced a lot of those guys when they were with Binghamton and I was with Portland," Clay said, referring to his time in the Red Sox system. "It seemed like every time I pitched against them, they just crushed me. It was kind of a sweet victory. For once, I got the best of them."
Clay (3-1) was in control from the outset and faced the minimum over six innings, thanks to inning-ending double plays in the third and fourth. In total, the 2006 first-round pick struck out six batters and walked one.
"I was somewhat pitch-efficient," he said. "I only threw 101 pitches. My defense was really good behind me today, they helped me out. Probably six or eight plays they made were really good plays, and then [catcher] Luis [Martinez] called a great game. It was a team effort, it wasn't just me."
Leadoff man Tony Campana gave Clay the lead with an RBI single in the second, then padded it with a two-run single in the sixth.
"It's always a good feeling, especially when your team scores run early," Clay said. "It relaxes you, and you don't have to do everything by yourself. Especially with that lineup, I think our lineup is pretty good. We can score on anyone on any given day. It's just a good feeling that if you keep it within two or three runs, your guys are going to find a way to score. It gives you that extra confidence."
Clay faced multiple baserunners in an inning just once, when Matt Reynolds reached on third baseman Luis Jimenez's throwing error in the seventh and and Wilmer Flores followed with a single that extended his hitting streak to 21 games. The 26-year-old right-hander induced flyouts from Allan Dykstra and Andrew Brown to end that threat, then pitched around a two-out single in the eighth and retired the side in order in the ninth. It was his first complete game since pitching a three-hit shutout for Double-A Harrisburg on June 1, 2013.
"I really kept them honest, pitching inside and using my changeup," he said. "My changeup was really good today and my fastball command was pretty good on both sides of the plate. I think that's the main thing that kept them off-balance.
"I really didn't feel like I threw any different than I had the previous four outings over here. It's not really not command, it's just more or less not being afraid to give up hits. I pride myself on not walking people and making them earn 90 feet."
Clay started the season in Korea but signed a Minor League contract with the Angels on June 21. In five starts with the Bees, he has a 2.97 ERA and 20 strikeouts against four walks over 33 1/3 innings.
Making his first Pacific Coast League start since June 14, Mets No. 2 prospect Rafael Montero (4-3) took the loss after yielding a run on five hits over four innings. He struck out three batters and walked three.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.